It wasn’t easy, but I’m back in the labor force. I’ve been working for over a month now and want to share my trials and tribulations with you all.
Before I begin, I just want to say that every rejection, every misstep, and every heartache- and trust me, there were plenty- I encountered along the way made me stronger. I strived to learn something from all my interviews and constantly looked for ways to improve my presentation, interview ability, resume, personal and mental health, cognitive abilities, and my holistic happiness.
One thing I want to be quite honest about is this: You’re doomed to linger at each stage until you pass each test along the way: application, follow up, interview. With enough effort, persistence, and reflection, you will find a job. I know that doesn’t mean much from a random person but it will happen and likely when you least expect it.
About me: 26, B.A. History, 2 years of internship experience in government/law, 2 years experience in non-profit advocacy.
The Story: My organization was faltering and I was required to take a severe pay cut. After applying and working for 3 months, countless promises of my pay restored to its original level, and a toxic work atmosphere, I quit. I was unemployed for 3 months until I found my current position.
Number of Applications: 120
Number of Interviews: 21
Number of Interviews by bulk website application: 7
Number of job offers received : 1 via bulk application
Websites I used: Craiglist, Idealist, NYFA, Mashable, Mediabistro.
My Approach to finding a job will be divided into 3 different parts.
1. Resume & Cover Letter
A.Resume- You need to make this document air tight AND make it look good. I highly recommend you dish out your resume to friends, family, career services, and any hr or skilled writers you know for some perspective.
I sent my resume out to 3 writers, 2 hr managers and a graphic designer for feedback. This document is the foundation of your search so why take a chance with a flawed document?
In addition to giving your resume some hefty review, I highly recommend you draft several versions with as many bullets/achievements you can think of. I created a master CV that had around 20 bullets per position. This allowed me to quickly pull together unique resumes tailored to each position I was applying for.
B. Cover Letters- There are several schools of thought on this document. Some think it’s meaningless; other’s think it can make or break your candidacy. I personally spent a lot of time perfecting my cover letters. I started off drafting a completely unique cover letter for every position I applied for.
It was time consuming, frustrating, and didn’t always pay dividends but after 2 months I had drafted enough cover letters to have a solid foundation to pull from.
2. Follow up
Whenever you submit an application, I highly recommend you call the organization you’re applying to and try to speak with someone (unless the posting specifically stated otherwise.)
The goal here is to get a hold of the position’s manager and let me be clear: DONT SETTLE FOR HR! You want to build rapport with your potential future manager by simply introducing yourself, saying what you can bring to the job, and if you can send your details directly to him/her.
After this, you can write a quick email thanking them for taking some time to chat with you and simply attach your resume and cover letter. After a few days have passed, I would send a short email (1-3 sentences) just reiterating your interest in the position.
3. The interview
Game day. Some people will naturally excel at this stage and others will flounder BUT it’s a very learnable skill, and a rather easy one to improve upon.
A. Research- The more, the better in my opinion. Do some research on the organization. Find out their mission, know some of their major successes. Read their blog or any other recent piece of information.
B. Review- Look over the job description. For every responsibility or requirement, try to think of a parallel at your old job. If you don’t have one, try to think of something similar that you’ve done at another job and how it translates to this new responsibility. This will help you develop some muscle memory for your interview.
C.Practice- Look up tons of questions for your role online. Practice the questions out loud and say your answers out loud. After a few rounds, look yourself in the mirror and say your answers. If they’re not believable to you, they’re definitely not going to be believable to the interviewer. If this is your first interview in a while, I would also recommend having a roommate, friend, or significant other do some practice rounds with you. This will help loosen you up and give you some feedback.
D. Have a story- Right off the bat they will most likely ask you “so tell me about yourself.” Don’t just read off work history. You need to develop a cohesive narrative for your interview that fits your interests in the job. Work on a elevator pitch for what you’re currently looking for, what your aspirations are, and how your background reflects this. Another way to approach this is build a narrative around a successful work trait you possess and illustrate its recurrence across your work history.
E. Body Language and Mental Frame- There’s a great ted talk on the importance of this for not only an interview but for life. She can explain it better than I can :). Remember to keep an upbeat demanor, have a positive attitude, and remember, It’s just an interview. Questions- Ask tons of questions at the end. The more, the better.
I read this really great ebook on interviewing and it helped a lot. It gave me tips on how to answer specific questions. I even memorized some of their answers and I could tell that some people were impressed. You can check it out by clicking here. The best thing is, it has a 60 day money-back guarantee so there is really no risk at all!
It’s all too easy to wallow in unhappiness when your unemployed but you have to remember that you control the armor. You can choose to let bad days become just a bad day or a bad week. As hard as it is, don’t let unemployment define you and try to take advantage of your extra free time. Remember that every dog has its day. The interview is the most important so make sure you practice and rehearse your answers. Goodluck!